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<< May 2021 June 2021 July 2021 >>

1st: Dogs 2nd: Rhea 3rd: Rhea 4th: Alpacas 5th: Rhea 6th: The Land 7th: Fruit and Veg 8th: Poultry 9th: The Land 10th: Poultry 11th: Rhea 12th: The Land 13th: Rhea
14th: The Land 15th: Cats
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1st: All six in shot!
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2nd: First Rhea Chicks
We have our first two Rhea chicks. We 'unpicked' this one on 29th May - it was on Day 41 of incubation and Day 6 of 'Hatching Lockdown' so we felt it needed a helping hand. It arrived weak, with some blood loss from its abdomen, a slightly offset beak and curved feet. We taped its feet which has worked a treat but 4 days on we are still unsure how much (if anything) it is eating as we have seen no sign of any pecking at the food. We have been dipping its beak in the lettuce and spinach filled water and trickling chick crumbs down its beak but the jury is out as to whether this is being successful or not!! The food and water are both showing signs if disturbance but this could be through 'feet' not 'beak' activity.
Chick number two arrived all by itself 2 days ago and is looking very strong, although again, no pecking has yet been viewed.
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3rd: And then there were three
Last night we unpicked our third rhea: this time a white one. He was very sticky and wet and as the photo shows is a tad bald in places but he seems strong and alert. It's lovely having a trio now AND in even more exciting news, rhea number one is definitely eating in public and so we feel a lot more confident that the others will follow suit (hopefully at four days old, number two already is). A combination of chopped lettuce and spinach and a liberal sprinkling of chick crumbs are obviously doing the trick!! Huge relief!!
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4th: Castrations
Today was all a bit grim as it was Castration Day: six alpacas, one lamb and one goat. First up was Mrs White's ram lamb whose testicles has been a bit evasive when we tried to ring him at just under a week old. Legally, banding has to be done in the first 7 days so having missed the opportunity, he was booked in today for a full testicle removal. He sat on Jack's lap and was as good as gold and within half an hour was back with mum. Tarragon wasn't quite so easy - goats are a bit more resistant to having any procedures done so he needed a bit of valium to calm him down as well as the local anesthetic. His recovery time was much longer and he was still wobbly and rather cross with us as bedtime.
The alpacas all went really well: Io was the most bolshy but on the whole the rest just allowed it all to happen and then were very glad to be released back into their paddock. We had a bit more lying down than usual into the afternoon/ evening but essentially, they were all as right as rain.
We now no longer have any entire 4-leggeds on the smallholding as per our plan to no longer breed or to allow any breeding: a horrid step to take but now done, a way of ensuring relative peace and harmony and no need for any separation between males and females.
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5th: Egg laying resumes
After a gap of almost a month, the rhea have started laying again - big relief. Last year they carried in well into August so May felt just a little early! This is White Toe proudly sitting on his nest - although once again we will be taking the eggs away for the incubator. We have three eggs due to hatch on 12th and then, fingers crossed, these latest ones will provide us with a few more chicks in July!!
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6th: Bufo Bufo
It is rather wonderful what can be found on a smallholding in spring. This was in the sheep's water bucket this morning - small, but in every way, perfectly formed - the Common Toad (Bufo Bufo). And it does seem rather unfair to call it 'common'.
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7th: And now to wait
The allotment is a wee bit behind thanks to the weird weather this spring but if all goes well, we should still be in for a bumper crop of fruit and veg come late summer/ early autumn. We have: potatoes, onion, garlic, butternut squash, french dwarf beans, spinach, swiss chard, cabbage, calibreese, peas, mangetout and runner beans; raspberries, blackberries, loganberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and rhubarb. And in the greenhouse: strawberries, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes, more squash and cucumbers. AND in the cold frames, the grow bags are now ready to receive salad leaves, raddish and spring onion!!! Fingers crossed for exactly the right amount of rain and sunshine at exactly all the right times!!
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8th: Increasing the flock
Egg numbers have been steadily dropping, due probably to having too many broodies and quite a few older girls. A couple of days ago therefore we collected/ took delivery of a few extra: 5 mixed-breed hens from Katherine and Nick along with 5 Lohman/ Columbian Blacktails and 2 Marans from a new contact Julie Pratt. Three of Katherine's are already laying as they are last year's birds sop egg numbers have 'swelled' by 2/3 a day already. They are all spending a few days inside to make sure they are fit and healthy and then we will start to allow them outside to mix with the others. We eat a lot of eggs and more so since we stopped eating meat and Linda and Inge also take 3-4 boxes a week too. We really don't want to run out!! Relaxed at Home
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9th: Sublime to the ridiculous
So as we try to creep up on the swallow on the fence for a closer look, Chips tugs at Jack's phone pocket in the vague hope that a bottle of milk may be lurking therein... never a dull moment...
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10th: Spot the Runner Duck
The grass in our poultry area is just a tad long at the moment!!
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11th: Feeding Frenzy
The chopped lettuce and spinach is proving as popular with the turkey poults as it is with the rhea chicks - we are lucky once again to be getting 'seconds' from James at Simmons Fruit and Veg - still costs us a few pounds a week to keep them in their greens mind you!! And worth every penny!
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12th: Mother Nature
Where we can on the smallholding, we are leaving Mother Nature to do what she does best. This fabulous patch of buttercups is just one of many on the allotment where we are leaving the grass to grow in those parts where we don't have established beds. The poultry area is similarly blessed although we do need to tackle some of the nettles in there as they are creeping more and more each year and kiiling other species off (as well as providing fabulous cover for the fox!!!!). In the non-grazed fields we have scores of oak trees growing. The rhea don't touch them but the sheep will so we are trying to work out how best to try to preserve some. Mother Nature is great but as with most things in life, a balance must be had and a helping hand given in in order for everything to co-exist together!!
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13th: Regular as clockwork
After their gap of several weeks, the rhea are now in a very regular pattern of laying 3 eggs every 2 days. We have two nests although only one is being laid in, and all the males seem to be keen to 'sit', other than White Toe who sits the least, prefering instead to proudly look after his harem of ladies. We have had two more chicks hatch from our latest batch, both white, giving us a total of five with just two of them grey! So far all the chicks seem quite strong (fingers crossed). Our latest batch of 13 eggs went in the incubator 4 days ago and in a couple of days we can candle them and see how well fertility is doing!!!
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14th: Daily task
Every day when we walk round the fields with the dogs, checking stock as we go and topping up any feeders/ drinkers as required, we now have an additional task on the list: flattening mole hills!! It's immensely satisfying, albeit a little disheatening as within hours they are back but, the grass is happier for our attention and it all looks so much better. At the end of the day, the moles are helping to aerate our land - we just wish they didn't have to create such whopping huge grass-killing mounds when they do. We have a vaugue hope our constant kicking of their hills may give them an almightly headache and make them move on - but we fear this might be an expecatation too far!!
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15th: These two...
Cute as chips... always
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